KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 20.00, 8 August 2001.
Reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in communist
and post-communist lands.
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UKRAINE: DRAFT LAW TO INCREASE STATE CONTROL
OVER RELIGIOUS ORGANISATIONS. The new draft Ukranian law
on religion introduces, as well as new registration requirements (see KNS
8 August 2000), more state control over religious property and the
religious activity of foreign citizens, as well as new provisions covering
religious education. A draft of the law was rejected on 29 May by the
Supreme Rada and it is unclear when the latest draft will be discussed.

UKRAINE: DRAFT LAW TO INCREASE STATE CONTROL
OVER RELIGIOUS ORGANISATIONS.

by Anna Vassilyeva, Keston News Service

The new draft Ukranian law on religion introduces, as well as new
registration requirements (see KNS 8 August 2000), new provisions
covering religious property, religious education and the religious activity
of foreign citizens. The need to adopt a new law arose from the creation
of a new legal framework following the adoption of the Ukranian
Constitution in 1996.

In many ways the draft follows the provisions of the law of Ukraine "On
freedom of conscience and religious organisations" adopted in 1992 with
subsequent amendments. The text of the draft law stresses the equality of
religions before the law with no distinction between the "traditional or
historic religions", while emphasising adherence to "recommendations of
the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe", But the draft also
strengthens the power of the state over religious organisations.

Although, at the recommendation of the board of experts of the Supreme
Rada, a number of harsh provisions have been excluded from the current
draft, for example the issue of certificates to clergy (Article 14 of the first
version) - which it has been decided is an "internal matter for religious
organisations" � the latest version introduces new provisions compared to
the current law with regard to registration (see KNS 8 August 2000),
church property, religious education and the religious activity of foreign
citizens.

The draft aims to prevent both the division of the property of
congregations in cases of changes of jurisdiction, which happened in
forming an independent Orthodox Church (see KNS 25 July 2001), and
the defection of congregations together with their property to newly
formed or altered jurisdictions. Unlike the present law and affirming
Bondarenko's conviction that there can be no redistribution of property,
Article 9 "Religious congregations" states in paragraph 2 that change of
jurisdiction "does not entail a loss of the rights or obligations of a
particular religious congregation".

In order to establish more state control over the transfer of religious
property between denominations, the process of which will be regulated
by the state, a new provision is introduced (Article 21, paragraph 3)
under which in the case of ceasing the activity of a religious organisation
"the property in its ownership, other than property connected with
religious worship, may by decision of a court be transferred without
payment to the ownership of the state", while "property connected with
religious worship may be transferred to other religious organisations".
The article does not specify the procedure for choosing which religious
organisation should receive the property, apparently leaving the choice to
the CRA.

Two new provisions in the sphere of religious education (Article 9) are
designed to allow the teaching of religious disciplines not connected with
the carrying out of rituals (paragraph 3) on a voluntary basis and also to
permit religious organisations to create educational establishments
(paragraph 4) "and also to conduct the teaching of religion in other forms
using for this purpose premises that they own or that are provided for
their use".

With regard to the international contacts of religious organisations,
Article 25, paragraph 3 states that "foreigners and persons without
citizenship who are in accordance with the law temporarily resident in
Ukraine (but not representatives of foreign organisations invited to
Ukraine for an appropriate period by religious organisations) do not have
the right to interfere in the worship or other canonical activity of
religious organisations" or "to preach religious intolerance or to insult
the feelings of citizens of Ukraine or foreigners or persons without
citizenship ., in connection with their religious convictions", although
they do have the right to profess their faith individually or collectively.

A draft of the law was rejected on 29 May at its first reading by the
Supreme Rada and it is unclear when this draft will be discussed. (END)